History of the Coast Guard Reserve
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As the new millennium arrived there was much concern about the Coast Guard’s ability to ensure that its information and technology systems were Y2K compliant. Potential problems were identified as early as 1996 and by November 1998 the Coast Guard had created an Incident management Team (IMT). The team consisting of 17 officers and enlisted personnel was primarily staffed by reservists. At the time Rear Adm. George N. Nacarra, Director of Information and Technology and (Y2K) incident commander, noted that reservists were absolutely essential in every step of the Y2K project. “This coordinated team effort is perhaps our best example of how the active duty Coast Guard relies so heavily on our Reserve program to provide personnel with critical skills to meet…surge needs.”
The year 2000 would see Coast Guard reservists deploying to the Middle East in response to a terrorist attack on the USS COLE in the Port of Aden, Yemen, on October 12, 2000. The attack killed 17 sailors and injured thirty-nine others. Two months later, on December 13, thirty-seven members of PSU 309 deployed to provide ship borne and waterside security for high valued vessels in the Middle East region. This would be a precursor of things to come.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 highlighted the value of the Coast Guard Reserve. As noted by then Director of Reserve Rear Adm. R. Dennis Sirois, “When the nation was confronted by the immediate need for securing our domestic port infrastructure, the Coast Guard was there. Exercising existing plans and the unique authorities granted the Secretary of Transportation, the Coast Guard Reserve surged immediately on 11 September, with up to 1,100 members on duty by 14 September.”
Among those reservist recalled for protect the homeland were members of PSU 305 and PSU 307, which were sent to the port cities of New York and Boston respectively. Hundreds of other reservists were deployed to protect dozens of critical ports along the country’s East, West and Gulf Coasts.
In addition to domestic port security, reservist serving at PSUs began a near decade long mission of land side and water side security in the Middle East as well providing water side security at Naval Base Guantanamo, Cuba.
In 2005, a series of natural disasters once again led to the recall of hundreds of reservists. The first and most notable was HURRICANE KATRINA which devastated the Gulf Coast states and led to the levee failure and flooding of New Orleans, La. KATRINA was closely followed by HURRICANE RITA again impacting the Gulf, specifically in the Houston-Galveston area.
The high operation tempo created in the post-September 11 world force the Coast Guard to re-evaluate how it should manage, administer, and train the Reserve Component for surge and contingency operations. This led to the single reorganization of the component since it was integrated during the mid-1990s. The result was the creation of the Reserve Force Readiness System or RFRS. RFRS repositioned full time support billets (FTS) funded by the Reserve Appropriation (AFC90) to meet their statutory mandate of providing a well trained and ready Reserve Component. Initially implement in 2009, the RFRS structure was designed and created to ensure ongoing alignment of strategic and tactical program management from the Headquarters level to the Sector.